The Rise and Fall of Bum Bags

How did the once dorky trend go from rags to riches?

Credit: Jennifer Padilla

Bum bags are arguably the most polarising bag in the accessory community. They’ve come a long way from being thrown in the bargain bins at Urban Outfitters.The hands-free bag has been a symbol for dorkiness among tourists and dads for the past several years, but they’re back as brands like Fendi, Zara and Balenciaga showcase the once unfashionable trend on their shelves.

Bum bags date back to the Copper Age when a 5300-year-old frozen human body’s wardrobe was shown to be wearing “belt bags” made of leather and fur. Time magazine’s October 26, 1992 cover story reported the discovery of the human, Otzi the Iceman, wearing “a leather pouch resembling a small version of the ‘fanny packs’ worn by tourists today.” That’s right. People were already sporting the trend, granted it was for a more practical use in hunting and gathering. 

The United Kingdom first coined “bum bag” in the 1950s, but the bag is now more popularly known as a fanny pack. However, it wasn’t until the ‘80s when the trend gained some footing. Bum bags started popping up in its true form: nylon, neon-coloured and purely worn around the waist. They were being sported based on functionality rather than a fashion statement. Around the same time, tourism had significantly risen in popular cities, such as New York and Japan, and bum bags were simply being used for practical travel purposes.

By the ‘90s, the trend had shifted into athleisure wear, with women wearing their Kelly Kapowski biker shorts and fitted crop tops. Not to mention the iconic Dwayne the Rock Johnson outfit back in 1996 of the wrestler sporting a black turtleneck, light wash denim and an ever so tiny black patent bum bag.

Somewhere along the way, bum bags became “dorkier” and “dad like” rather than fashionable.

Fashion writer for the LA based website Good + Well Erin Bunch wrote an article titled: “How to wear a fanny pack without looking like your dad”. She says for a while, the trend was embarrassing to sport. She remembers seeing her mum and dad wearing the bags around their waist on family vacations during the ‘90s.

While the trend still got its bad rap in the media, Karl Lagerfeld created quilted black lambskin fanny packs for Chanel in 1994, while Louis Vuitton also started gracing fanny packs in runway shows. While designers started to join in on the bum bag fad, there was an irony that came with the look.

In her article, Bunch says it was the nylon material and utilitarian use that made the look so dated in the ‘80s, which is why the fad had faded. Bunch changed her opinion though during the early 2000’s, when she saw Carrie Bradshaw wearing a Gucci bum bag with a black crop top and striped skirt on an episode of Sex and the City.

“That was the first time I saw one and thought it was styled pretty cool,” Bunch says.“They came back in 2017 when I wrote that article because ‘it girls’ like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were starting to wear them.”

Stylist and fashion blogger Jennifer Padilla frequently wears her studded leather Zara bum bag with her street and chic style on her Instagram feed. She remembers when she first saw fashion influencer and Youtuber Brittany Xavier sporting a red blazer and a Fendi bum bag cinched in at the waist. It inspired Padilla to purchase a bum bag of her own. She says as an ‘80s baby, she remembers when bum bags were simply made of nylon, cheesy neon colours and a zipper across the top.

 “I remember even as a kid seeing fanny packs when I was growing up and thinking ‘Oh that’s ugly,’” the stylist said. “I think it’s about how they were styled back then. People would wear them with baggy pants or even overalls with the one strap hanging, but I mean look at all these couture high fashion brands rocking these pieces.”

For Padilla, the trend went from ugly to couture because the materials were evolving as brands such as Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga started showing them in a chicer design in 2015 fashion runways. The other reason she feels the trend has evolved is because more women and men started wearing them across the chest.

Bunch agrees that it all comes down to the way they’re being worn, along with the people who sport fanny packs today.

“I feel like today, trends don’t come in and out of fashion like they used to so intensely. Personal style is dictated through different ways now,” Bunch says. “It used to be strictly the runways that said what was in fashion, and nowadays it’s influencers and social media as well, so there’s so many more voices and style has become a lot more eclectic as a result.”

To see them go from a practical bag to carry sunscreen in to the accessory piece of 2018 is quite a statement. Now fashion buyers seem them in every iteration of brand from Topshop’s neon green bum bag to Nasty Gal’s silver studded black version of the bag. When you see Rihanna sporting a coral-coloured power suit with a matching cinched in fanny pack, it’s hard not to want to rock one too. So here’s to the fanny pack comeback!

How to Rock Your Fanny Pack

Over the Shoulders: People have been sporting their bum bags over the shoulders, and it virtually works with any look. The over the shoulder look is for street wear everyday looks. If you’re keeping it casual with sweatpants, you can keep your look minimalistic with a matching sweatshirt and a bright coloured bum bag. You can also wear it with a simple denim jean and t-shirt for a more low key look. For someone with a more athletic built or pear shape, this is the way to wear it to accentuate the top half of your body.

Keep it Classic: If you’re apple shaped, this will be the most flattering way to wear the bum bag, and it works the best for BBQ’s, amusement parks, or just a fun summer day out. The classic nylon bag is nothing to be ashamed of as you can rock it with distressed jeans and an open bomber jacket for some more edge. You can also wear it more formally if it’s slung over a long floral skirt and an oversized fuzzy jumper.

Cinch it in: If you have an hourglass figure and want to call attention to your waist rather than your hips, try purchasing a bum bag that belts at the waist. This is the sleekest way to rock a bum bag especially if it’s a boxier shape. You can rock it like Rihanna by wearing a satin blazer and smart pair of trousers, or you can keep it more casual with a simple A-line dress.

Special thanks to Jennifer Padilla and Erin Bunch for the interviews and photos for my article! You can follow Jennifer here and Erin here.

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Canary Wharf Lighting & Getting the Perfect Shot

Here’s a little picture from the Canary Wharf lighting they had a few weeks ago. I saw tons of photos on Instagram prior to going and these were the ones I wanted to hunt down and take pictures with.

These went off every eight minutes which was so funny for photos. Did anyone else start snapping like crazy when the lights started again? It was a timed race to get the perfect picture, which is hilarious in retrospect. Anyway, I’m looking for some more Instagram spots or events in London so if anyone knows any, email me or comment below a favorite spot of yours during the wintertime!

Summer Profile: Zhenya Hutson

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Meet Zhenya Hutson! She earned her degree in Retail Merchandising and now works in Product Development for one of the largest retailers in America. She has had her style and beauty blog for 10 years and you can check out her website here: http://beingzhenya.com/

I got to do a little interview with her, and her blog alone was so aesthetically pleasing, so I was stoked to find out more about her.

1) How would you describe your style? 

My style is rather eclectic, I like to mix and match vintage and thrifted pieces with high end accessories and shoes. My style also changes season to season and can be rather unpredictable. I’m very easily entertained and I find inspiration everywhere. One day I can be channeling 70s boho chic and another day I’ll look like I’m headed to an afternoon tea.

2) You did a couple capsule wardrobe posts on your blog. What’s your biggest advice for someone trying to limit their wardrobe to a capsule?’

I did write about capsule wardrobe, but I’m only 60% there. I started seriously cleaning out my closet about 6 months ago, realizing how much I had, but I always reached out for the same pieces. When I moved to Chicago, I hung all my clothes and turned the hangers backwards. If I wear the item, I then rotate the hanger the normal way. At the end of every month I assess what I haven’t worn and either donate it or take to a resale shop. It does take a lot of discipline, but my husband helps keep me in line. I also would rather spend money on home decor and set up my new place, so I haven’t bought new clothes in a while.

3) Who is your fashion icon and why? 

I don’t have a fashion icon, never have really. I’m inspired by art, movies, songs, cities. I just came back from a 2 week vacation in Europe and it has inspired me to be even more unique and different when it comes to style.

4)What is the coolest place you’ve traveled to? 

The coolest place was definitely London, second coolest was Split, Croatia! The city I want to spend more time in is Paris! I’m already planning my Italian vacation next year, and I can’t wait.

5) Why did you start your blog and what have you gotten out of it since you started? 

I started my blog 10 years ago. I met some of my best friends through the blog and that is hands down the coolest experience ever! I also landed my most recent position thanks to my blog, so that’s neat too!

Summer Profile: Ruthy Gascot

Meet Ruthy Gascot:

Having been born and raised in Brooklyn, New York has given me the opportunity to mix styles. When we think of New York City, we automatically think of Manhattan, but have you heard Brooklyn is the new Manhattan? Brooklyn is a diamond in the rough and that’s how I like to think in regards to my style. Much of my style is influenced by my mother who is my #1 fashion icon and the streets of Brooklyn. I like to hide behind clothes and show my self with style. Spread love is the Brooklyn way.

1) Describe your style in three words

Short, sweet, shy

2) What’s your ideal summer vacay?

Sipping piña colada by a pool

3) What’s your typical coffee order?  

Light and sweet

4) Why is fashion important to you?

Fashion is important to me because I can express myself through my wardrobe when I can’t find the words.

5) What’s your fashion motto?

Break the rules. If you feel happy and confident, it will show through your energy and attitude.

Quote of the Day

If anyone can give you advice about life and living it to the fullest, it’s definitely Jack Kerouac. What this
Pinterest

Too many times in life, people put their happiness on a pedestal. They say “Once, I get through A, B, and C, I’ll be happy.” Others do it without realizing. They can’t wait until the weekend. They say “I can’t wait to leave this job, or this school,” or whatever stage they’re trying to surpass. Part of success and happiness is the journey that leads up to it. People spend too much time focusing on the future to truly appreciate the present. Life is too short to be taken so seriously, so remember to appreciate the little moments in each day.

Wedding Jumpsuit OOTD

This is an outfit I wore for a wedding. This is a jumpsuit from H&M that I got on sale for $25.00. This is a length I’ve never worn before, and the ruffle top is very bold, so I was hesitant to wear something like this, but it definitely stood out in a sea of dresses.

I used to be so worried about taking risks with fashion and “standing out too much” but if you love what you’re wearing and own your look, then rock your outfit with confidence. I’ve learned over the years that if you act unphased by people’s opinions, that you can truly be yourself.